Taiwan Struck by 7.2 Magnitude Earthquake, Killing At least 9 and Injuring Hundreds

Taiwan Earthquake

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit Taiwan on Wednesday, April 3rd, 2024, at 7:58 a.m. local time. It is reportedly the strongest to strike the country in 25 years, measuring about 35 km (21 miles) deep, according to the Associated Press. The earthquake’s epicenter was Hualien County, per the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

So far, it has killed nine people, injured more than 900, and trapped dozens under the debris. Of the injured ones, 132 belonged to Hualien County. The Taiwan earthquake also triggered a tsunami warning for the Philippines and Southern Japan, but it was lifted later. Reuters reports that the aftershocks occurred in many cities in China, including Shanghai, Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou, and Ningde.

Many countries and global authorities have offered support to Taiwan over the past few hours, including the European Council’s president, Charles Michel. He posted his condolences on X (formerly Twitter), and the country’s president-elect and vice-president, Lai Ching-te, replied to him.

Taiwan Earthquake: The Current Casualty Reports

The Chinese media says around 26 buildings have collapsed, with 15 located in Hualien County. The earthquake was followed by at least 58 aftershocks, with one measuring around 6.5 magnitude. This incident also resulted in about nine landslides on Hualien’s Suhua Highway.

The Taiwanese government has suspended schools and classes in the Hualien region. The rescue operations by military and first responders are still going on to save more than 100 citizens trapped in tunnels and collapsed buildings. According to Taiwan’s National Fire Agency, around 70 people from the tunnels have been evacuated, while at least 70 are still trapped in multiple rock quarries. 

Reports also suggest the death of three people who were walking along the Dekalun Trail in Taroko Gorge National Park. Another casualty was a truck driver whose vehicle collapsed on a boulder on the Suhua Highway on the eastern coast.

Many foreigners and locals, including two Canadians, are trapped in Taroko Gorge Park. However, according to the German DPA news agency, two German citizens were rescued from a tunnel on the Suhua Highway.

The major parts of Taiwan are currently without power, affecting more than 87,000 citizens nationwide. The earthquake also affected the country’s phone networks. As per the National Fire Agency, authorities are disconnected from 50 workers in mini buses going toward a hotel in the Taroko Gorge National Park.

Is Taiwan Safe Now? 

Considering the magnitude and frequency of the Taiwan earthquake, the government has already established a disaster response center in Hualien. The primary earthquake occurred on a tectonic boundary lying between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate, hinting toward more disasters in the coming days.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Administration says the country can still be hit by aftershocks of magnitude 7 in the following three days. Given the potential threats, the country’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, plans to deploy more soldiers for rescue and recovery operations.

The casualties are also expected to increase if the trapped citizens don’t get rescued anytime soon. 

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